20. New civic elite
In the 13th century, Barcelona played a key role in financing the conquests of Mallorca, Valencia and Sicily, followed by Sardinia in the 14th century. In return, it gained control of the south-western Mediterranean trade routes in competition with Genoa, the north-western power.
Maritime trade generated huge profits which were even greater when they were reinvested in financial support for a monarchy weighed down by military expenditure. Thus Barcelona became home to a trading and financial elite which built up its fortune and influence symbolised by the lavishness of the city’s striking Gothic mansions.